South Africa’s established locations industry got a big lift from the success of Neill Blomkamp’s “District 9” in 2009. The film, per Michael Murphey of Kalahari Pictures, which co-produced it, was “a huge boost to the way the rest of the world sees and respects South Africa.”

In general, 2009 was a very strong year for the biz in South Africa. Think Fox’s “24: Redemption,” HBO’s “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,” Mira Nair’s Amelia Earheart biopic “Amelia,” Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus,” Uwe Boll’s “Darfur,” and the actioner “The Bang Bang Club.” All helped push the country into the global spotlight.

Momentum built further with AMC’s Emmy-nominated mini “The Prisoner” and History’s Emmy-winning series “America: The Story of Us” and “Gettysburg.” Last year saw the release of BBC and Working Title’s “The Borrowers,” the Winnie Mandela biopic “Winnie,” starring Jennifer Hudson, and Marc Forster’s “Machine Gun Preacher.”

The B.O. success of Fox’s “Chronicle” and Universal’s “Safe House” this year further augur well for South Africa’s industry. Later this year will see the release of Paul Walker starrer “Vehicle 19” as well as the highly anticipated 3D sci-fi epic “Dredd,” which could be the tipping point for South Africa’s visual-effects industry.

In production are Tandem’s “Treasure Guards” and “Labyrinth,” which the company is shooting in association with Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Films. Blast Films is co-financing a Roland Joffe/Michael Ashton script, “The Archbishop and the Antichrist,” starring Forest Whitaker as Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Nelson Mandela will be the focus of a mini by the same U.K./Canada/South African trio that produced “Bang Bang Club,” as well as Pathe and Anant Singh’s long-awaited biopic “Long Walk to Freedom,” a project more than 15 years in the making.

Fest Traveler: Durban International Film Festival / Scout & About: South Africa
Rich soil for new voices | Tax rebates, new studios pull production south | Biz returns to the boom times of 2009